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Less than a generation ago, only three percent of dentists were mercury-free. Dentistry’s best-kept secret was that amalgam fillings had mercury, a neurotoxin that can permanently injure the developing brains of children and fetuses.

The secret was enforced by tyrannical dental boards, which threatened to pull the license (the right to practice) of dentists who spoke out — and who did in fact pull mercury-free dentists’ licenses in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New York.

Other mercury-free dentists faced unrelenting pressure from their peers to conform. An historic irony that dentists doing the right thing were ostracized is that is that the term “quack” derived from the German word for mercury, “Quecksilber.” The “quacks” were the health professionals who used mercury!

It is to the great credit of these dentists — who studied the science and opposed putting pollution in their patients’ mouths — that they stuck with their principles. As mercury-free dentistry grew, dentists began to adapt by offering mercury-free dentistry. Synergistically,, as mercury-free dentistry grew, so did consumer awareness.

Consumers for Dental Choice was created in 1997; its first project was to free up dentists to be able to advise, advocate, and advertise for mercury-free dentistry. To take out this notorious gag rule root and branch, Consumers for Dental Choice used a comprehensive strategy.